Both 'Sons' and 'Justified' love to use 'Deadwood' actors
While in the course of my travels here in LA this week, I came across a bit of casting news that will be of interest to both "Sons of Anarchy" fans and the people who are following my "Deadwood" season 1 reviews this summer: Ray McKinnon, who played Reverend Smith on "Deadwood," has signed on for a season-long arc on "Sons" as a prosecutor - described as "an independent thinker and somewhat odd" - who targets the Sons.
As I mentioned when explaining why I chose "Deadwood" as my summer DVD rewind, there seems to be a land war between "Sons" and "Justified" over which FX drama can hire the most "Deadwood" alums. McKinnon already guest-starred on "Justified"(*) in season 1 as a hitman targeting Raylan Givens. While I believe he's the only "Deadwood" alum to double-dip both the FX shows, plenty have popped up on one or both.
What's happening in the world of TV while your correspondent is traveling?
I'm in LA for a few days to attend some meetings, conduct an interview or two, etc., and all that traveling (plus the summer TV season still getting out of first gear) means that posting will be light for much of this week. I'll still hit all the usual stuff ("Men of a Certain Age" tomorrow, "Deadwood" Thursday, "Doctor Who"(*) and the Sunday shows over the weekend, etc.), but other things may slip through the cracks.
(*) For those who've wondered about the lack of a "Doctor Who" review over the weekend (and who don't follow me on Twitter, where I already explained it), I decided to skip "The Almost People" for two reasons: 1)I didn't enjoy the episode very much, and 2)Because BBC America decided to take a week off for Memorial Day weekend while BBC in the UK did not, "The Almost People" review would have gone up after the mid-season finale had already aired in Britain, and keeping the discussion free of spoilers was going to be far more trouble than it was worth.
Since I have a few minutes before I have to head out into LA traffic, I figured I would do a little link-blogging this morning:
One show makes a creative leap forward, while the other continues to coast
USA has built itself up into one of the biggest powers on cable - especially when it comes to original scripted drama - by keeping things light (both in tone and actual color palette) and offering up a seemingly endless supply of easy, breezy shows featuring attractive people in warm settings investigating mysteries of both the simple and ongoing variety. And if you just want a little eye candy, or something to turn your brain off in front of at the end of a tough day, USA's current roster has plenty to offer.
But of the three basic components in the formula of nearly every USA show since "Burn Notice" replaced "Monk" as the network flagship - colorful and/or likable heroes, entertaining standalone cases and an involving longer story arc - rarely will you find the same show successfully working all three at once. Really, the only one that carried this three-part harmony off for any significant length of time was "Burn Notice" itself, and that was essentially for one season (the show's second). The characters have stayed consistently engaging, but there have been plenty of periods where either the mythology has fallen flat or the cases of the week have seemed especially forgettable. On occasion, the show has struggled with both at the same time, and even the superhuman charm of Bruce Campbell and Jeffrey Donovan's facility for weird accents can only go so far. (Though I have a good feeling about the new season, given where the last one ended.)
Most of USA's other shows tend to understand that interesting characters matter - it's in the network slogan and everything - but they can be even more dicey when it comes to both the weekly and seasonal storytelling. Some shows eventually improve, while others get stuck in a rut after a while - a dichotomy neatly represented by tonight's return of "White Collar" at 9 and "Covert Affairs" at 10.
Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 77: 'Twin Peaks,' January Jones in 'X-Men,' 'Switched at Birth' & more
Dan and Alan also answer your mail
This week's Firewall & Iceberg Podcast is a first of a sort: the first podcast recorded with Dan and me in the same room that didn't involve Comic-Con or TCA. I'm in LA for a couple of days on business, so Dan and I sat down to begin our summer rewind of "Twin Peaks," review ABC Family's "Switched at Birth," randomly segue into a discussion of January Jones' performance in "X-Men: First Class," and more. The run-down:
Bryce continues to torment the family at a tragic time
George R.R. Martin scripts an episode setting up pieces for the closing chapters
Another wild Mardi Gras day, but with some sadness, too
The murder investigation takes a break for a week, and the show oddly improves as a result
It's getting ugly for the Lions and their friends and family in a riveting episode
(I originally posted this review back when "Friday Night Lights" was doing its exclusive DirecTV run. The comments from that period have been preserved. For the sake of people who are watching the episodes as they air on NBC, I will ask anyone commenting from this point forward to only discuss plot events up to the episode in question. Do not discuss, or even allude to, anything that has yet to air on NBC. Thank you.)
A quick review of tonight's "Friday Night Lights" coming up just as soon as I do a Samoan war dance...
The romantic anthology is a dead show walking, but what did everybody think?
It's always funny how quickly a show can go from a network's darling to a complete afterthought. A year ago, NBC was so high on "Love Bites," a romantic anthology series from "Sex and the City" writer Cindy Chupack, that it scheduled it on Thursdays at 10. Perhaps more importantly, network execs were so excited about it that they screened a large chunk of the pilot episode (the Greg Grunberg/Jennifer Love Hewitt one) at the upfront presentation. A network only tries something like that if they have overwhelming confidence in a show - ABC the year before showed the entire "Modern Family" pilot - and so someone, somewhere, was convinced the world was ready to love "Love Bites."